This post is from 2009. Enjoy! In English the title of the post would translate loosely as, “The Don’tCatch’Em Rabbi’s Chanukah Message about Very Scrupulously Refraining from Gossip.”
Rabossai (Gentlemen), Because of our great sins we are in exile. We are too far from hashem (G-d) and too close to each other in Otisville Correctional Institution. Some say nisht geferlich (not terrible) because there are separate litvish and chasidish minyanim (prayer groups). But what good does it do to have a Hasidic minyan (prayer quorum) when fights break out every time someone shouts yechi (the Chabad phrase proclaiming their late Rebbe, the messiah). But a yid (Jew) has to rejoice and bring simchah (joy) into the world. Yes, yavanim (Hellenists) brought avodah zorah (idol worship) into the har habayis (temple mount), but we triumphed and expelled them. Nowadays we are also afflicted by our new Greeks who endanger the spiritual health of our people by driving Jews into jails. I want to talk about the three sins that cause this terrible situation: lashon horah (gossip), mesirah (informing), and neglect of pidyon shvuyim (redeeming captives). If every yid (Jew) in the world would follow these Jewish principles this tragic situation would end.
You have to be machmir (stringent) about mesirah (snitching) . Before you even approach a rav (rabbi) for permission to snitch, ask yourself, how would it feel if a rav gave someone else a heter (permission) to moser (snitch) on you. Remember Hillel about not doing to others what you would not want done to you.
Loshon horah (gossip) is where so many problems start. If you are debating what to say and when to say it and in front of whom to say it, it is already too late. Just say no to loshon horah. If a problem does not exist you don’t have to waste a rav’s time to ask such questions. Too many people have become liberal and say things like I know we have a problem and we will deal with it. These Agudah chachamim (Agudath Israel wiseguys) think they are helping. They figure if we say we are having meetings the pressure will ease up and that will buy them some more time. Why doesn’t Agudath Israel realize that eventually people will notice that nothing is happening? This creates unrealistic expectations and eventually people behave like Americans and start demanding action.
If a problem happens don’t start debating on the blogs. Just say nothing happened. Nothing! Gornisht! One chosheveh yid (respectable Jew) started with a shmooze (talk) about who didn’t invite who to a wedding. Now everyone in Boro Park is scratching their beards trying to figure out who he was talking about. This led to other questions. You can start a nuclear explosion by messing with one atom. Simple. Just say No! I didn’t see, I didn’t hear, I don’t know. If you start asking questions of a rabbi you will end up answering questions from a policeman.
Finally, I want to talk about pidyon shvuyim (ransoming captives). Some children think this is about pirates with eye patches taking Jews for ransom. Boruch hashem (bless G-d) this does not happen much. If Somalis (creepy guys) capture Jews, the vershtunkene Zionist shkotzim (stinking Zionist creeps) with their Druze shabbos goyim solve it. Bizmaneiunu (nowadays), pidyon shvuyim often requires askanim (fixers) to help out those who were osek bitinokim (involved with children). It isn’t a fancy thing with a ransom. It is shmearachts (bribes) to goyishe (gentile) prosecutors. It is also doing toyvahs (favors) to help yiden (Jews) go to eretz yisroel (Israel) without having to waste time in a courthouse in the goyish (gentile) section of Brooklyn. It is the great work of pleading with yiden (Jews) not to violate mesirah (rule against snitching). And lo oleynu (it shouldn’t befall us) it is dealing with lawyers and coaching molesters on how to claim they did tshuvah (repented) so the families don’t have to worry any more. It is hard work. Sometimes the askanim (fixers) have to coach the same molesters on the same spiel over and over, year after year.
The chusheveh askanim (respected activists) who do the work of pidyon shvuyim (captive redemption) have the chochmah (wisdom) to be roeh es hanoylaid, (to see and fix a problem before it starts). They have the misfortune to meet with goyish politicians and they get forced to have their pictures taken with them. Then, these precious shtadlanim (interceders) have to violate their offices by filling up their walls with pictures when they would much rather have bookcases full of seforim (religious books). Then we all have to be embarrassed for our leaders who have their pictures in the newspaper with a goy or a goyish Jew wearing a cheap satin yarmulke with a shpitz (peak). Askanim must promise votes and deliver them. They have to threaten the lowlifes who take our money and then won’t even stay bought. Those politicians have no ethics.
Askanus (interceding) for pidyon shvuyim (captive redemption) is a hard task. Some of them have to live off the small percentage of the tzedakah (charitable donations) that is mamash (literally) their pidyon (redemptive donation) plus whatever they can get for their mosdos (organizations) in contracts. These askanim (fixers) are oseh niflaos (miracle makers). Our askanim are our modern Hasmoneans. They overcome armies of prosecutors. Then with only a little shemen (oil) everyone’s palm is greased. With luck they stay greased for much more than eight days.
I know that these askanim are not perfect. But on Chanukah, even a yid like me in golus (exile) in Otisville has to extend hakaros hatov (gratitude) to a great askan, a great anav (modest man) who gives me hope. If he could persuade a President of the United States to pardon some Skverer shvuyim (New Square prisoners) I have great hopes that I, of a much more important dynasty will be saved. Skver is nothing compared to me. They have 1200 votes. My chevrah kadishah (burial and cemetery organization) in Queens can deliver 1,600 votes and my Chicago chevrah kadishah has another 150 votes (50 neshomos (souls ) x 3 times at the polls). Boruch hashem (bless G-d ) my chevrah (circle) are complete maminim (believers) in techiyas hameisim (resurrection of the dead).
Remember my fellow yiden (Jews), don’t ask and don’t tell, don’t talk and don’t explain but support those who dedicate themselves to pidyon shvuyim (ransoming prisoners). Have a happy Chanukah with your families. When you light your menorahs have a special kavanah (thought) for us but don’t, G-d forbid, share it out loud. A silent tongue is a guarded tongue. Happy Chanukah!